A Spe­cial­ity Mess

New ‘su­per-spe­cial­ity’ hos­pi­tals still-born for now

India Today - - STATES - By Romita Dutta

Chief Min­is­ter Mamata Ban­er­jee’s much tom-tommed prom­ise of bring­ing ter­tiary health­care to West Ben­gal’s hin­ter­land is strug­gling to take off amid a scarcity of spe­cial­ist doc­tors, paramedics and med­i­cal tech­ni­cians. So to­day, 41 gov­ern­ment ‘su­per-spe­cial­ity’ hos­pi­tals con­structed at a cost of Rs 10 crore each are be­ing used to store ex­pen­sive med­i­cal equip­ment, most of it still in wooden crates. In­ci­den­tally, about Rs 1,100 crore un­der the Cen­tre’s Back­ward Re­gion Grant Fund is be­ing di­verted in the state for th­ese hos­pi­tals.

In Nandi­gram, for in­stance, the crum­bling block pri­mary health cen­tre (BPHC) was moved into the newly con­structed su­per-spe­cial­ity hos­pi­tal on De­cem­ber 25. “The or­ders,” says Group D em­ployee at the hos­pi­tal and now ‘pro­moter’ Gopal Chan­dra Jana, “came from the chief min­is­ter”. The fa­cil­ity to­day has an OPD, 30 beds, a labour room for de­liv­er­ies and a phar­macy, but no op­er­a­tion theatre. Hos­pi­tal su­per­in­ten­dent Ad­waitya Mudi de­clined to com­ment.

And it’s not just Nandi­gram. As many as 34 su­per-spe­cial­ity hos­pi­tals (the rest are not even func­tion­ing) that the Mamata gov­ern­ment claims to have opened are all no more than BPHCs in shiny new build­ings.

Aside from the fact that sev­eral of the new hos­pi­tals are lo­cated in Maoist ter­ri­tory (hence the re­luc­tance of staff to serve there), West Ben­gal is also af­flicted by an acute short­age of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als. Close to 2,000 of the 3,453 sanc­tioned posts of spe­cial­ist doc­tors are va­cant. And 1,235 of the 5,835 ap­proved posts for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als are va­cant. The gov­ern­ment has made it manda­tory for med­i­cal PG stu­dents to serve three years at a gov­ern­ment district hos­pi­tal. But with just 150 seats in PG, out of which 70-80 qual­ify to pur­sue a doc­toral de­gree to be­come spe­cial­ists, there are sim­ply not enough spe­cial­ists to go around. The CM’s grand health­care en­deav­our looks to be still-born for now.

BEDS AND PANS In­side the su­per-spe­cial­ity hos­pi­tal at Nandi­gram

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